There was a time when nothing was going right in my life. Family, friends, love, relationships… Either they were out of reach or they were too superficial for me to bask in the ecstatic joy that should be characteristic of every relationship. I joined my Hindustani music class just to stay occupied. Keeping myself completely engaged was what I wanted. It was a period of depression and my heart was trying to escape from the cage that it found itself in while my mind was unstable and kept searching for a sliver of meaning wherever it could. Just a few days before this period, I participated in a vocal competition. I did not get selected till the final, but I earned a lot of compliments regarding my voice and my singing style. I never looked back after that.
One day, spontaneously as if in a burst of instinct, I typed “Hindustani Music Class in Chennai” in the Google search engine and the first name that flashed on the top was “Alap Music Academy”. I called, got the response, got ready, triangulated the address and reached there within about 2 hours. The class was going on and I was told to wait. I don’t exactly remember what kind of song was being practised. What I do remember is all the feelings that surged within me in the time that I was present there. For that half an hour, I literally forgot everything. I was happy and I realised that maybe this is the right place to at a time like this. This could, in fact, be my therapy session. As I kept attending the classes on every weekend, I started to feel the difference. I knew music helps a lot, but this aspect hit me profoundly as I experienced it for the first time.
Today’s world is full of rush, where no one has time to get immersed in the subtle tones or the enigmatic rhythms emanating from your voice or your instrument. We often lose ourselves amidst the crowd. We don’t understand what we feel, what we want, what we need and what should be our further course of action. For the current generation, as the life is getting easier in one direction, it is also getting complicated in another way. Stress, depression and negativity seem to be taking the form of clouds of smoke that cloud the doors of our perception. As we keep on achieving more & more, we feel like we are losing a part of ourselves in this battle. It is time for us to understand that the battle is not lost if only we give in to the awe and wonder of the moment, which is exactly what music does for us.
Music and Expression
Often the problem that lies within us just lies there, like a dragon in deep slumber. As a human being, we all tend to hide things. Sometimes we don’t express things intentionally while other times it’s just because we are not capable of being expressive enough to convey what we want to. This is where music plays an important role. When emotions are boil up within us and we keep ourselves involved in playing an instrument, composing a song or writing lyrics or singing, it exactly represents our state of mind to others. This is where music transcends the limitations of mere words, allowing us to express deep-seated emotions. The expression makes us feel better as emotions tend to burst out. As we lose ourselves in this form of art, we tend to become more conscious of our own feelings. Sometimes it just takes the right lyrics to get all the sadness, depression and other repressed feelings out. This helps us look at our emotions in a new light, thereby helping us understand them in a better way. This also helps us look at ourselves in a completely objective way. In another way, the right lyrics or music can make us resonate with the feeling of affection that we feel towards others, thus helping us to give words to the unsaid. The human need to express to the utmost degree is what has caused the birth and evolution of music, which is the perfect mediator.
Music and Sleep
Having peaceful sleep is one of the prime needs of every human being. Music has its very own way of embracing us & making us feel comfortable. Singing lullabies to babies has been often traditionally followed. Classical music is considered as a helping aid in getting a better sleep due to its soothing effect. It is also helpful for the adults. With the tension of job, family and personal life, while lying down on the bed we seem to think over a lot of things. The body needs to be relaxed in order for it to drift off to sleep. Music helps in setting a proper rhythm to our pattern of breathing as well as to the pace of our muscles, and thus, helps our body in relaxing. For people whose mind starts pondering over multiple abstract thoughts in the late hours of the night, you can also try listening to some smooth music so as to clear your mind of the thoughts that just refuse to let go.
Tripped Out Fact: Binaural beats are said to be very effective in inducing deep sleep and also for inducing vivid dreams. These beats are essentially tuned to the frequency of the brain waves which emanate during sleep cycles such as REM, thus helping us to relax and reach those states in a faster, more relaxed way.
Music and Meditation
Some particular genre of music can actually be used to gain focus and thus be used while meditating. Music can stir up the deep silence within us, thus helping us tap into states of consciousness which we are not familiar to in normal waking life. The more silence we get adapted to within ourselves, the more focused we can be, whether it is for soul searching or for any particular activity at that. It has always been a great experience for me whenever I start and end my day by listening to some sort of serene music. Research also reveals that listening to music while solving mathematical problems can be helpful as it activates few parts of our brain associated with the same.
Tripped Out Fact: The parts of the brain associated with the processing of music almost coincide with those which are associated with the brain centers which are responsible for the processing of mathematics and logic. This means that musicians have a natural adeptness towards logic and math, even though this may not be in relation to academic mathematics.
Music has the power to take us to greater and higher states of awareness where we experience things on a completely different level and can uncover levels of concentration which are unheard of.
Music & Healing
Music is the voice of nature and nature is the great healer. There is a kind of universality in music that every possible living creature can feel, irrespective of the languages they know or the mode of communication they are dependent on. That is how well music is aligned to our physical as well as our mental existence. Spending some time in the lap of nature and sensing these forms of music can heal us from within. And to heal the world, we need to heal ourselves first, which is the need of the hour. One of the best aspects related to nature and the music that emanates from it is the fact that you need to cut through the dissonance of your mind in order to truly comprehend it.
Tripped Out Fact: Tibetan bells and singing bowls have been known to be used for healing deep seated mental trauma. The healing properties of Tibetan bells actually comes from the distorted sounds that are created from these, owing to which interference patterns are caused, resulting in the release of powerful energies from the subconscious.
As a part of my personal experience, I have felt that music is something which can inspire, heal, and re-energize us. The words of Michael Jackson, “Heal the world, make it a better place” was the first thing which I was introduced to, about him. And it happened when I was at an age of 24, before which, all I knew about him was just in the form of a name of a celebrity or artist. This form of music and lyrical content did help me in understanding my sense of responsibility towards society and the world, when I was going through the hell in my own personal life. Music can be the much-needed vehicle on which we traverse the bounds of our limited perceptions as it allows us to be part a whole again, to feel like we are part of a grander scheme of things, which helps us understand ourselves and the world around us in a much more intricate way.